After decades of educational messages and campaigns on the grave health consequences of tobacco use, fewer young people than ever smoke cigarettes.
But this triumph has come with an unintended side effect.
A rising number of middle and high school kids are smoking electronic cigarettes, or “E-cigarettes,” according to a National Institutes of Health report.
E-cigarettes are electronic devices that vaporize flavored liquids that often times contain nicotine. These alternatives to smoking tobacco come with their own set of health risks, including asthma and respiratory infections.
Among Latinos, tobacco use remains a serious problem and an increasing number have begun using e-cigarettes, according to American Heart Association News.
“Easy access to these products, the appeal of flavored tobacco products’ taste and smell, minimal restrictions on public use, and use while socializing were cited as reasons contributing to these products desirability” among Latinos, according to the research.
So, while “traditional” smoking has gone down, vaping has “expanded the market for tobacco products” and now are reaching kids who are traditionally at low risk of smoking cigarettes.
The number of teens and pre-teens who used e-cigarettes, traditional cigarettes or both in 2014 is greater than the number that smoked just cigarettes in 2009.
In August of 2016, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) restricted the sale of e-cigarettes to adults aged 18 and older, and by August 2018, e-cigarettes will have warning labels on them talking about the “addictive nature of nicotine.”
There is also some discussion among policymakers to prohibit selling e-cigarettes with flavors that have been proven to attract young people.
The NIH concluded:
“…e-cigarettes seem to be making the tobacco problem worse, not better.”